Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Germany - 1918 Junkers CL.I

A Life of Controlled Chaos

Things have been hectic in the studio recently. The Polish Project is moving along with new additions to the galleries. New master files are in work and new references have been found. In addition to this I have started a collaboration with a writer like and respect on an upcoming project. I will give more details on the project when I can. All I will say at the moment is it will be a very interesting read.

Long term readers know my opinion on the question of what makes a forward thinking airplane design during the First World War. It is no secret that I think designs with more than a single set of wings was a paradigm which needed to be cast aside. In most cases triplanes were a waste of time and material. Successful triplanes were light weight and small. Ironically this type of airframe was what made the Fokker E.V-D.VIII a great plane.

Junkers's Dream Machine

Hugo Junker was an inspired visionary who did the groundwork for modern aviation. He championed the idea of metal skinned monoplane aircraft in spite of what some saw as common wisdom, but was just another manifestation of lack of vision. Junker went beyond the envelope and saw the shape of things to come. His ideas were picked up by Anthony Fokker, who was always quick to assimilate the work of others, during their joint venture producing the J.10 late in the war.

This is an example of the long body version of the CL.I (J.8 or J.10) painted in a relatively common camouflage scheme.

As with many aircraft a seaplane version was tested for feasibility. This example has an unpainted body and struts with a streaked camouflage on the floats. The rudder on the J.11 was altered as well as the exhaust system.

Overview of the Junkers CL.I

The Junkers CL.I was a ground-attack monoplane aircraft developed in Germany during World War I. Its construction was undertaken by Junkers under the designation J 8. as proof of Hugo Junkers' belief in the monoplane, after his firm had been required by the Idflieg to submit a biplane (the J 4) as its entry in a competition to select a ground-attack aircraft.

The J 8 design took the J 7 fighter as its starting point, but had a longer fuselage to accommodate a tail gunner, and larger wings. The prototype flew in late 1917 and was followed over the next few months by three more development aircraft.

The Idflieg was sufficiently impressed to want to order the type, but had misgivings about Junkers' ability to manufacture the aircraft in quantity and considered asking Linke-Hoffmann to produce the type under license. Finally, however, Junkers was allowed to undertake the manufacture as part of a joint venture with Fokker, producing a slightly modified version of the J 8 design as the J 10. Like the other Junkers designs of the period, the aircraft featured a metal framework that was skinned with corrugated duralumin sheets. 47 examples were delivered before the Armistice, including three built as float planes under the designation CLS.I (factory designation J 11). After the war, one or two CL.Is were converted for commercial service by enclosing the rear cockpit under a canopy.


  1. From Wikipedia Junkers CL.I ""
  2. Green, W; Swanborough, G (1994). "The Complete Book of Fighters. New York: Smithmark. ISBN 0-8317-3939-8.
  3. Gray, Peter; Thetford, Owen (1962). German Aircraft of the First World War". London: Putnam.
  4. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). "Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation". London: Studio Editions. pp. 536.
  5. "World Aircraft Information Files". London: Bright Star Publishing. pp. File 897 Sheet 01.


Gary C. Warne said...

With so much innovation in the German aviation industry, it's sometimes a wonder that the Germans lost. I guess not enough focus was put on the designs, like the Junkers, and other metal-clad aircraft, that would give them an unbeatable advantage until they could sue for peace or come to some terms with the Allies that were at least equitable.

Unknown said...

Germany lost a lot of time attempting to build an armada of lighter than air ships and to Triplane madness. They also had a problem creating enough production capacity. Add material shortages of simple things such as castor oil for lubrication for rotary and radial engines created a shift away from light weight engines to liquid cooled inline ones. Most of the waring powers faced chronic engine shortages. Being forced to have all your eggs in one basket definitely became their Achilles heel. When America began producing engines and airframes while German production capacity shrank spelled the end.